It is impossible to emulate all the challenges of High-Altitude Himalayan Mountaineering, particularly back home in the city of Melbourne, Australia. But when it comes to preparing for Himalayan expeditions, with a bit of lateral thinking, you can train the various components that you will endure in the thin air of the Himalayas.
Aerobic fitness is an obvious one. Our Dad use to enhance his aerobic fitness training by dragging a car tyre whilst on his morning jog. He combined this with pushing one of his kids around in the pram. Very soon Dad learnt to ignore the bemusement of passing walkers, joggers and cars. Retrospectively, Dad has wondered if they were simply concerned for the welfare of the child in the pram.
But it’s not just a physical game in the mountains, it is as much a mental challenge as well. Becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable is essential. The only way you can possible complete a Himalayan expedition is to learn to endure moments when you’re no longer at ease. Rock Climbing is the perfect training tool for this, since for me, it is as much a mental game as it is a physical one. With each move you make whilst rock climbing, you repeatedly create scenarios when falling becomes a very real possibility. In fact, sometimes falling is the safest alternative. It is a moment when you put all your trust in the climbing rope, your climbing gear and your partner belaying below.
In many respects, putting your trust in the environment around you is big part of mountaineering to begin with, since very little of it is under your control.
We can’t spend all our time in the Himalayas training for expeditions. But without putting in the effort back home, we will never be ready when the time comes.
Photographs by George and Alexander Hillary